Pamantasan ng Kababaihang Pilipino gives Erap
failing grades in all his subjects
by Gina Mission

The President's high current personal popularity didn't spare him from the withering scrutiny of the "teachers" of the Pamantasan ng Kababaihang Pilipino, who gave him a mark of 50 across the board, except for the 60 he got for signing the Clean Air Act.

resident Joseph Estrada may have managed to garner a high approval rating in recent surveys, but he certainly failed to get away from the more probing eyes, not to mention the higher-standard grading system, of his Filipino women "teachers."

___Today, in a "progress report card," covering the period from July 1998 to June 1999, women’s groups in the country, through their creatively-crafted Pamantasan ng Kababaihang Pilipino, slapped their student with failing grades in all his "subjects."

___The rating process, participated in by more than 20 women’s organizations in NCR and Luzon, was their way of participating in what they referred to as "the age of approval ratings and report cards." It was held at the Sulu Hotel in Quezon City, and was organized by BABAYI, a national alliance of grassroots, community and sector-based women’s organizations and individuals, and Kilos Kabaro, a network of Philippine women’s groups and organizations that have united to campaign against poverty and violence against women.

___The "subjects" covered four areas: aralin (lesson), ugali (attitude), kilos (conduct), and panunungkulan (work). Under aralin are the issues of human rights, women’s rights, poverty eradication, good governance, sovereignty, peace and order, recovery of ill-gotten wealth, food security, and environmental protection. All the women present at the program agreed that the President failed in all of these areas.

___According to BABAYI national chair Elizabeth Angsioco, the human rights situation has worsened during Estrada’s first year. She cited the cases of the Marcoses as well as the human rights claimants, the clearing of Panfilo Lacson and company of their involvement in the Kuratong Baleleng case, the implementation of the death penalty, the increasing military and police abuses, the failure to protect the rights of indigenous peoples, and the resurgence of arrests of activists.

___Atty. Evalyn Ursua, executive director of the Women’s Legal Bureau, reported an increasing number of rape cases in the first year of this administration. She also noted the absence of any law on domestic violence and abuse of women in intimate relationships. But what seemed to really got the ire of the women "teachers" are the presidential sexist jokes.

___On the Clinton-Lewinsky affair, the president was quoted as having said: "Clinton has the scandal, I have the sex." Referring to Senator Raul Roco on helping mediate the talks between the government and Muslim rebels, the president said: "Hindi naman pwede rito ang pusong babae…Iba na ang laban dito, lalaki sa lalaki." While watching women employees dancing to welcome him in one of the earliest official functions he attended after the presidency, Estrada reportedly remarked: "Hindi makakaligtas sa akin ‘yan kung bata-bata pa ako."

___The president has also flip-flopped on the issue of contraception and family planning. Also, he reportedly kept on flaunting his other "families."

___In her presentation on poverty under the Estrada administration, Dr. Rosalinda Ofreneo said that more Filipinos are getting poor. An estimated 75 per cent of the Philippine population live below the poverty line. In the delivery of basic services, Ofreneo reported a housing backlog of 3.8 million units; the absence of adequate health programs, services and facilities; and the severe inadequacy of public education program, which, she said, has worsened in Estrada’s time.

___In terms of labor, Estrada’s first year in office saw the rise of flexible labor arrangements and union busting, as well as the lack of collective bargaining agreements; and export processing zones employing children.

___Just a year after the President assumed office, cases of graft and corruption increased, such as the textbook scam; the Motorola, handcuffs, and drug test scams involving the Department of Interior and Local Government; the linking of Agrarian Reform Secretary Horacio Morales to a syndicate inside the Health department; and the proliferation of gambling, especially jueteng, and recently, the online bingo.

___The women’s groups also assailed the appointment of and giving favors to the President’s relatives, friends, political allies, actors and actresses, and other personal acquaintances. In addition, the women also hit the "bloated bureaucracy" of the administration, with the President having as many as 80 presidential advisers/consultants/assistants, some of whom don’t even report to work, such as the case of Mark Jimenez and Celia de Castro. Also, the women alleged that the President travels with bloated contingents during his frequent foreign trips, with some contingents reaching more than a hundred people.

___President Estrada’s "teachers" also found the alleged removal of pork barrel disgusting, when in reality, "legislators now need to line up in Malacaņang for the funds to be approved. This practice, they said, reinforced the padrino system.

___Also contributing to the President’s "failing grades" are the disunity, turf-grabbing and infighting among his people, such as the case of Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora and Presidential Management Staff Chief Leny de Jesus over presidential appointees. The same holds true with the cases of DILG, Agriculture Department, and Philippine National Police officers.

___The President was also accused of political vindictiveness directed against political enemies and those who did not support his presidential bid.

___On the peace and order situation, the President’s handling of the Mindanao issue has received negative reaction. He also stopped the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front.

___His assumption to office was also equated with the comeback of the Marcoses and their cronies. Even the recovery of the Marcos ill-gotten wealth was abandoned, as the government preferred to enter into a compromise deal with them instead.

___Instead of pushing for adequate production and self-sufficiency, what the government is doing, the women said, is encourage importation of basic commodities such as rice, sugar, pork and beef, some of which were discovered to be unfit for human consumption.

___While President Estrada signed into law the Clean Air Act, he has still allowed the continuing construction of gold courses, as well as mining exploration.

___For other "subjects," the women rated the President as "irresponsible," "has too many outside interests," "over-confident," "doesn’t show leadership qualities," "not prompt and regular in work habits," "doesn’t show respect for the law," "friendly and protective with Marcos cronies and others," "inclined to rowdiness and other forms of misbehaviour," "talks irresponsibly and offends others."

___As a President, the women rated him as a "failure," with his work "falling off" who comes to work "poorly prepared" and "lacks concentration," thus ending up "too dependent on others."

___With these qualities, the women suggested that the President be made to live with a female-headed urban poor family. Or that if he wants to improve his rating, he should repeal the Visiting Forces Agreement, the Mining Act, death penalty, and PD 1177, which provides for the automatic appropriation for debt servicing. If he couldn’t do any of these recommendations, the women said that the President might as well resign from his position. Or be made to go back to grade one.


Photo courtesy of Rod Villacorta

CyberDyaryo | 1999.07.08